Samauri, Shogun, Fuji, Tanka…not the typical seventh graders’ everyday vocabulary! But Woodland seventh graders have been recently immersed in the world of Medieval Japan, and these words are now less strange to them.
Seventh grade social studies teacher Ms. Addie Raines explains: “The seventh grade students are learning about life in Medieval Japan. We have learned about the Samurai and Shogun, who were the warriors and military leaders of the day. The students compared and contrasted Samurai armor and weapons with today’s weapons and armor. We also discussed the role of our military today. We learned that Mt. Fuji is based on the legend of Princess Asama, who was thought to have lived inside the volcano. We used the Smartboard to show interactive pictures of Mt. Fuji.”
“During the Middle Ages, the Japanese wrote poems, stories, and plays. Japan’s oldest form of poetry was the Tanka (Tahng-kuh). Tankas are unrhymed poems of five lines containing thirty-one syllables. The students, after learning about these very specialized poems, wrote their own.”
Student Joseph Radford enjoyed the unit. He shared that “The Samurai were very brave; they would never give up or betray their masters. The poems were easy and exciting.” Joseph’s poem is CRUSH.
If poetry was an important part of medieval life in Japan, with heroes such as the Samurai and Shogun, it is nothing to be ashamed of in our day! Poetry comes in many forms, rhyming and unrhyming, long, short, with strict formulas and free form, acrostic, limericks and Tanka! Woodland seventh graders are enriched by the Tanka experience, so find a seventh grader and ask to hear their creation! You will most likely be impressed.